The dining landscape in Atlanta, the capital of the New South, has changed dramatically over the past quarter century. Beyond restaurants serving old school Southern staples, the city now boasts one of the most delicious culinary scenes in the nation. But in a time when restaurants, even in this growing city, open and shutter on a near-daily basis, it’s important to remember those that have stood the test of time and look at those newcomers who we have no doubt will do the same. To wit, we present our Atlanta dining guide to the ATL’s long-running and newly opened restaurants.
Tried + True: Bacchanalia
Chef Anne Quatrano has been a pioneer in Atlanta’s culinary crusade since she opened one of the first chef-owned, fine dining restaurants in 1993. That restaurant was Bacchanalia, a spot that has remained on nearly every “best of” list for more than 20 years and only seems to get better with age.
Rave review: “I hadn’t been to Bacchanalia in 15 years. It is still as amazing an experience in 2015 as it was in 2000 — the food, the service, the atmosphere all were beyond excellent!”
Hot + New: Atlas
Not only is Atlas one of the city’s first fine dining restaurants to open in several years, but it’s also one of the only chef-driven restaurants within a hotel in all of Atlanta (Atlas sits on the second floor of the St. Regis Hotel in Buckhead). Local restaurateur Gerry Klaskala, who also owns Canoe and Aria, opened the stunningly beautiful hotspot with chef Christopher Grossman, who hails from The French Laundry, manning the stove.
Rave review: “Wonderful ambiance. Great service. Very good wine list. The food was fantastic and seasonal. It really hit all points you want when you go out to eat.”
Tried + True: South City Kitchen Midtown
Hungry Atlantans have been flocking to South City Kitchen for fried chicken and banana pudding since the late nineties. The restaurant was one of the first contemporary Southern spots in the city, marrying regional ingredients and time-honed recipes from granny’s kitchen with modern cooking techniques.
Rave review: “SC Kitchen has been here for multiple decades and after not visiting for over 15 years we know why: they always deliver. Wonderful meal and impeccable service. They keep their menu choices down and the quality at a high level. Our waitress said their training program is unbelievably thorough and we believe it. It’s no wonder they rank in the top Atlanta restaurants every year.”
Hot + New: One Eared Stag
Though One Eared Stag isn’t traditionally Southern, it’s a restaurant with the heart and soul of the South. Chef Robert Phalen runs a no-waste kitchen that serves up innovative, whole-animal, root-to-leaf dishes bursting with flavor — just order his fried chicken thighs and black pepper biscuits with Anson Mills grits and marrow butter for proof.
Rave review: “I made reservations at One Eared Stag based on it making Atlanta Magazine‘s ‘Top 50 Restaurants’ list and recommendations from friends. Boy, am I glad I did. The restaurant is tucked off in Inman Park and has an atmosphere that borders on upscale and hipster simultaneously. The food was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. I am still dreaming about it a week later. I have heard great things about OES’s brunch and will more than likely return to the restaurant this weekend to try it out.”
Tried + True: no. 246
For nearly five years, Italian food lovers (although, does anyone really not love spaghetti and meatballs?) have been booking tables at Ford Fry’s no. 246 in Decatur to get their pizza fix. Chef Drew Belline’s margherita pie is simplicity at its best while his ricotta agnolotti is the stuff of legend.
Rave review: “Love going here! While the menu changes a bit, I know the food will be amazing no matter what. The service level is the best and this is one of Ford Frye’s best teams. I can come here for any meal and bring anyone — picky family, vegan colleagues, friends, etc. My go-to spot! And the wine list is amazing, too!”